'Resident Evil' Review – Beginning of the Jovovich-Anderson Legacy
Committing to a cinematic version of an already legendary video game like Capcom’s Resident Evil took a few years.
Alan B. McElroy (Spawn, Wrong Turn) was the first one to write a treatment. After being rejected, Constantin Film allied with legend/writer/director George A. Romero. The particular and strong style of Romero (arguably the zombie genre creator), apparently didn’t ally with the producer’s point of view.
Finally, Paul W.S. Anderson, an ambitious director with ups and downs, arrived with an interesting resume that included the erratic-but-beloved adaptation of Mortal Kombat and the cult horror film Event Horizon. With those merits, Anderson got the job.
Resident Evil completely ignores the emblematic video game characters of the saga. There are no Redfield siblings, Wesker, Jill Valentine or Leon Kennedy in this movie. Anderson makes the right decision and lets the star power of his wife Milla Jovovich (who was just recently in an iconic role in The Fifth Element) to embody a completely original character. That way, the movie quickly found its own personality.
A prologue informs us about the power of the Umbrella Corporation in the world economy and politics. We also are introduced to The Hive, a gigantic high-tech genetic research facility, which is located below the fictional Raccoon City. An unidentified thief decides to contaminate the facility with the new T-Virus, a strain that revives dead organisms to a primitive mental state where the only feeling they have left is hunger.
The response of the facility’s artificial intelligence–baptized as “The Red Queen”–is to initiate a lethal protocol to avoid the propagation of the virus. The Hive becomes a bloody maze full of sealed doors, floods, elevators falling in free fall and poisonous gases. After a while, Red Queen achieved its mission to kill everyone inside.
We then meet Alice (Jovovich), who wakes up naked in the bathroom of a huge mansion, with amnesia. After getting dressed and inspecting her surroundings, she is surprised by a military sanitary unit led by James Shade (played by Colin Salmon, the proto-Idris Elba par excellence), who explains to her that she is also part of Umbrella and has suffered from amnesia through a Red Queen prevention measure.
And this is when Resident Evil makes an interesting turn. Any fan of the saga would expect mansions, dark corners, puzzles and giant doors. Anderson flirts with that idea before revealing to us that the mansion is a mere front that functions as a secret entrance to The Hive.
From here on out, Resident Evil is set in the most clinical, illuminated and futuristic settings, which is an interesting surprise that works.
In addition, Anderson eliminates the other obvious route and takes up to an hour before showing the first zombie. Before that, Resident Evil is basically the story of a military command evading lethal traps of an intelligent and technologically advanced building. Everything looks like a tribute to Vincenzo Natali’s Cube, to the point of emulating one of its most iconic death scenes.
It’s an interesting resource that allows Umbrella, the main antagonist of the story, to have a face and voice (the A.I. is shaped like an obnoxious British little girl modeled based on the daughter of the Umbrella’s head programmer).
Resident Evil revolves around a zombie outbreak, but this really is an action movie with some really basic psychological drama on top. All with a large load of dated CGI for the design of their multiple zombies and mutated creatures.
One of the strongest points of Resident Evil is its musical selection. Completely in tune with its metallic, high-tech, hostile and aggressive environment, the score composed by Marco Beltrami (Hellboy, Logan, Scream, The Hurt Locker) and Marilyn Manson is an electronic dark atmosphere with touches of industrial metal. In addition to the original score (whose main theme is one of the most recognizable tunes in 21st-century cinema, truth be told), the film is full of hardcore acts such as Static-X, Adema, Slipknot, Coal Chamber, Rammstein, and Saliva, among others. It’s a total commitment to the tone that lifts the story to an unexpected new level.
What's Your Rating For Resident Evil (2002)
Resident Evil also has incredibly clumsy and hollow dialogues and interactions. All the characters act like idiotic resentful soldiers, shouting and giving orders to each other all the time. The audience’s empathy is superficial and has more to do with the preservation of the shallow physical beauty before a destructive mutant agent.
That is, nobody wants to see Milla Jovovich be horribly deformed in front of our eyes.
Because yes, Alice is the main reason why this movie ended up generating five sequels. FIVE.
The image of Milla Jovovich flying-kicking a zombie Doberman while Nine Inch Nails’ “Fist Fuck” is blasting, is something that the audience just couldn’t help but love.
Title: Resident Evil
Release Year: 2002
Director(s): Paul W.S. Anderson
Actors: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, James Purefoy a.o.